The Kent Historical Society recently completed a renovation project that more than doubles the storage available for its art collection and its archives.

“The upgraded Art and Archives Area provides excellent storage space on the society’s property,” said KHS President Mike Everett.

“It will also prevent deterioration and damage to the artwork as well as make far better use of our whole campus,” he said. “We’re grateful to the three organizations who gave us grants for this project: Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.”

Like many nonprofits, the Kent Historical Society puzzles over finding more space.

The need had become acute since they discovered that the second floor of Seven Hearths, where they had been storing the artwork of George Laurence Nelson, was a Colonial-era fur trading operation.

That meant the historical society needs to move the paintings.

A timely visit from Richard L. Kerschner, conservation consultant on museum environments, suggested a way forward.

Kerschner pointed out that the largely unused space in the Tallman House basement was in fact dry, tight, and structurally just fine for art and archival storage.

This opened up some possibilities.

The historical society realized that they could move George Laurence Nelson’s paintings there, and have a better environment for the works on paper, which had been suffering at Seven Hearths.

With the proper outfitting, the same space in Tallman’s basement could also house the society’s archives, which would free up space on the first floor of Tallman.

To address these issues, the KHS applied for three grants aimed at renovating the Tallman lower floor for storage of paintings and archives.

The grants were carefully structured to cover different phases of this renovation.

The society was awarded $4,000 from the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation from the Edwin M. Stone and Edith H. Stone Fund, aimed at the basic reconditioning of the basement — removing an unnecessary oil tank and a furnace, and preparing the walls and floor.

The Daughters of the American Revolution supplied $5,000 for historic preservation.

Once the KHS explained the relation of the Tallman basement renovation to the fur trading post, DAR greed to support the cause.

The DAR money covered additional outfitting to make the space suitable for archival work.

More ambitiously, the KHS applied for $17,394 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to custom-build a storage module for the paintings and artwork.

The IMLS grant is the society’s first federal grant ever received.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to KHS was one of 206 museum projects awarded that totaled $21 million.

The museums were selected from a pool of 548 applications to the highly competitive Museums for America grant program.